por·​trait | \ ˈpȯr-trət How to pronounce portrait (audio) , -ˌtrāt \

Definition of portrait

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : picture especially : a pictorial representation of a person usually showing the face
2 : a sculptured figure : bust
3 : a graphic portrayal in words



Definition of portrait (Entry 2 of 2)

: of, relating to, or being a rectangular document having the vertical dimension longer than the horizontal dimension switching from landscape to portrait mode — compare landscape sense 3

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Examples of portrait in a Sentence

Noun The queen posed for her portrait. The book presents a portrait of life in a small town.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Moses wanted to honor Valentino’s work and paint her portrait. Valentina Di Donato, Forbes, 8 June 2021 Claudius had minted coins in which his portrait was paired with an image of the Praetorian Guard’s barracks—a daunting display of military domination. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, 7 June 2021 Ellsworth grabs the reader’s attention early in the book with his portrait of the Greenwood district. Washington Post, 28 May 2021 His portrait is included in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. courant.com, 28 May 2021 Such insights have become O’Toole’s signature in a series of essential essays on politics and leaders for the Review—most memorably in his portrait of Joe Biden as the mourner-in-chief, but also in profiles of Bernie Sanders and William Barr. Matt Seaton, The New York Review of Books, 22 May 2021 Michelle Obama, for example, was ridiculed for wearing a sleeveless dress for her first official portrait after becoming first lady despite others in her position, like Jacqueline Kennedy, sporting the same look with no fuss. USA Today, 14 May 2021 Soufflé won the feature photo competition, placing first with his underwater portrait of Hutchinson High School swimmer Grace Hanson. Star Tribune Sports, Star Tribune, 6 May 2021 William Sprague IV, who was in office in 1860 to 1863, rode a horse with one white hoof on a beach in his portrait. BostonGlobe.com, 6 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The small park behind Tahrir Square has been divided by tents, one of which has become a steadily expanding portrait gallery with photographs of those who have been killed by the security forces. Alissa J. Rubin, New York Times, 3 Feb. 2020 Yet for all the darkness, there’s a welcome and important dose of levity too, from a hilarious video of a beauty products fair by María Luisa Bemberg to Regina Vater’s playful, costumed self-portrait photographs. New York Times, 4 July 2018 Arneson sets the tone through a ceramic self-portrait head from 1973, wall-mounted near the entry. Leah Ollman, latimes.com, 3 July 2018 In portrait orientation, the left side of the bottom bar only has space for about three to four app icons. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, 23 June 2018 And even though the demand for photographers in traditional media has declined, there’s still a high-demand for commercial and portrait photographers. Jenny Knizner, USA TODAY, 4 June 2018 Dorothea Tanning’s self-portrait Birthday (1942) shows her bare-breasted, standing with a small winged monster with her back to a house full of open doors. Thomas Hine, Philly.com, 12 Apr. 2018 The heads presage a self-portrait print from 1990, displayed nearby, as well as the soft fabric figurative sculptures that Bourgeois took up in the late ’90s. Roberta Smith, New York Times, 27 Sep. 2017 Portrait sessions for families whose memories were stolen by the wind. Southern Living, 1 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'portrait.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of portrait


1570, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1975, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for portrait


Middle French, from past participle of portraire

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Learn More About portrait

Time Traveler for portrait

Time Traveler

The first known use of portrait was in 1570

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Statistics for portrait

Last Updated

11 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Portrait.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/portrait. Accessed 20 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for portrait



English Language Learners Definition of portrait

: a painting, drawing, or photograph of a person that usually only includes the person's head and shoulders
: a detailed description of something or someone
: a way of printing a page so that the shorter sides are on the top and bottom and the longer sides are on the left and right


por·​trait | \ ˈpȯr-trət How to pronounce portrait (audio) , -ˌtrāt \

Kids Definition of portrait

: a picture of a person usually showing the face


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